Tag Archives: Canadian Navy

Royal Canadian Navy Leads, and Schools, the Naval World on the Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Tool

The Canadian government’s defence priorities on display at Proceedings, the magazine of the US Naval Institute:

1) From the “Editor’s Page“:

Against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine, this month is our annual focus on international navies. A record 32 international navy chiefs accepted our invitation to describe their nations’ maritime security challenges

2) The resulting responses:

The International Commanders Respond

This year, Proceedings asked the commanders of the world’s navies, “How is your nation’s maritime security environment changing? Have new regional threats, climate change, or the COVID-19 pandemic caused you to alter your future assumptions? How is the changing environment impacting operations, budget, and personnel policy for your Navy and/or Coast Guard?”

[The Canadian contribution deals broadly with operations (no countries are named as “competitors or adversaries”; odd with that war going on and Canada’s actively assisting Ukraine), fleet recapitalization and personnel–the final part of the contribution is excerpted below.]


Vice Admiral Craig Baines, Commander, Royal Canadian Navy

Personnel…Like the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole, the RCN is taking appropriate measures to affect culture change. The RCN is using the government’s Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) tool to assess systemic inequalities and how diverse groups of women, men, and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs, and initiatives. Using GBA+ also ensures that future ships and submarines are not designed on incorrect assumptions that could lead to unintended and unequal impacts on particular groups of people. This will help ensure that the future RCN is an inclusive workplace in which Canadians feel comfortable and willing to serve.

The only other of those 32 contributions that even remotely deals with such, er, cultural matters is the one from the Republic of Korea:

The third pillar is the transformation of our organizational culture; a spirit and lifestyle shared by its personnel. To meet the needs of the time, society, and our sailors, we must reform everything from the administrative system to the military and organizational culture. The ROK Navy will implement the naval culture reformation through a disciplined navy spirit; a fair, efficient, and transparent unit management; and the 21st-century advanced naval culture that fosters respect, compassion, sympathy, and communication among sailors.

Crickets however from such progressive stalwarts as Finland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. We certainly are showing international leadership on that tool.

Here’s a PM Trudeau government-directed agitprop tweet from the Canadian Armed Forces–how much otherwise productive time is spent throughout the federal government on virtue signalling as this government conceives things?

And another tweet:

Keeping the true north strong and free. Lenses at the ready.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Trick question. That government doesn’t give a flying beaver’s fart. In any event it’s not just about air defence in (mostly) the Arctic anymore, Americans and Canadians.

Further to this post,

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment

if Russian-launched air cruise missiles (ALCMs) targeted against North American can be launched from beyond NORAD radar coverage, and beyond the defensive cover of USAF and RCAF fighters, how useful will be NORAD’s fighter forces? If they can’t get the archers can they then destroy their arrows en route? Seems, er, problematic in terms of numbers of ALCMS coming. Target point defence, both with more fighters and SAMs one answer? Also vs sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). US could try, Canada most unlikely.

Now from a story at Defense News:

NORTHCOM needs better sensors to protect against Russian submarine, missile threat [note NORAD not in the headline]

By Megan Eckstein

The upcoming budget request could include investments in maritime domain awareness close to home, with improved sensors to detect Russian naval threats to the homeland.

Commander of U.S. Northern Command Gen. Glen VanHerck told the House Armed Services Committee the technologies the U.S. needs to bolster its homeland defense against Russian submarines and missiles are currently available and in use by other countries around the world — meaning the Defense Department could move out quickly on buying and fielding them…

“The AS-23a air-launched cruise missile, for instance, features an extended range that enables Russian bombers flying well outside NORAD radar coverage — and in some cases from inside Russian airspace — to threaten targets throughout North America [emphasis added]. This capability challenges my ability to detect an attack and mount an effective defense. In the maritime domain, Russia has fielded the first two of their nine planned Severodvinsk-class guided missile submarines, which are designed to deploy undetected within cruise missile range of our coastlines to threaten critical infrastructure during an escalating crisis. This challenge will be compounded in the next few years as the Russian Navy adds the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile to the Severodvinsk’s arsenal,” his written testimony continues.

During the hearing, Rep. Joe Courtney, the Democrat from Connecticut who chairs HASC’s seapower and projection forces committee, asked about two solutions VanHerck mentioned in the written testimony: an Integrated Undersea Surveillance System and an Over-the-Horizon Radar system…

VanHerck said modernizing and expanding the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System would be a collaboration between the U.S. Navy and partners such as Canada to “track and maintain awareness of submarine positions around the globe. [It’s] a very challenging environment in the central Atlantic, when they get on the mid-Atlantic ridge, to be able to track them — so to be able to hold them accountable, if you will, before they become a threat is important.”..

“I need improved domain awareness to increase warning time and provide leaders at all levels with as many options as possible to deter or defend against an attack. Global all-domain awareness will generate a significant deterrent effect by making it clear that we can see potential aggressors wherever they are, which inherently casts doubt on their ability to achieve their objectives,” he wrote…

On the Over-the-Horizon Radar system, VanHerck said this system would look out about 4,000 miles in the maritime, air and space domains. Traditional radar systems are limited by the curvature of Earth, and this new system would give significantly better early warning capability compared to existing systems.

“OTHR is a proven technology that will provide persistent surveillance of the distant northern approaches to the United States and mitigate the limitations of the Cold War-era North Warning System, while contributing to broader domain awareness challenges including space domain awareness. The ability to detect air-breathing and spaceborne threats in the approaches to Canada and the United States will be significantly enhanced by fielding OTHR as soon as possible,” he wrote in his testimony.

VanHerck said the radar is “something we can move out on relatively quickly, as well as undersea surveillance,” given that the technology already exists and is in use by other nations…

Russia has the capability today to hold targets in the United States and Canada at risk with long-range air- and submarine-launched conventional cruise missiles. These highly precise and stealthy systems highlight the need for policy determinations regarding what must be defended along with continued demonstrations of resiliency and hardening [emphasis added, that point defence],” he wrote.

In addition to fielding the sensor systems and sharing the collected data globally, to “successfully deter aggression and defend the homeland, we must be able to detect and track the submarines, aircraft, and surface ships that carry weapons systems capable of striking the homeland before they depart from their home stations. We also need to improve our capability to defeat those launch platforms before they are within range of their targets.”

Meanwhile PM Trudeau’s government does not want to face paying serious loonies (those are Canadian dollars) to modernize the increasingly obsolescent radar North Warning System–and the US is getting publicly bothered, see this post last December: “NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons“. In any event I have no confidence that his ministers and most of our senior public servants have any real grasp of the matters now involved with the defence of this continent and the Revolution in NORAD Affairs taking place in the US.

It’s not all about how much money a Canadian government is willing to spend on the North Warning System/NORAD; it’s about what strategy for NORAD/NORTHCOM the US will decide upon and whether Canada agrees (willingly?) to be a full participant therein.

Very relevant posts:

US NORTHCOM Thinking pre-emptively vs Russian Cruise Missiles, Leaving NORAD a Backwater?

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

“Left of launch” means acting (in one fashion or another, kinetic or otherwise (e.g. cyber), preemptively before an actual attack starts. What does our government think of NORAD’s being involved/associated with such an approach? Again, have they even thought much? At all? PM Trudeau’s government should be asked to clarify its views on the way ahead for continental defence and not answer just with vapid, blah blah talking points.

Surely real attention must be paid at last now in light of Bad Vlad Putin’s nuclear noises relating to his brutal war on Ukraine?

UPDATE: Let’s see how much funding, how far the government is willing to go beyond North Warning System upgrading toward other aspects of continental defence that US is planning. And ballistic missile defense? Defense vs sub-launched cruise missiles (with real public emphasis on RCN’s ASW role?). Defence vs cruise missiles that get past the High North?

I’d love to be pleasantly surprised and so I’m sure would be Pentagon and Biden administration (see this post: “NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons“):

Canada to unveil ‘robust package’ to modernize NORAD continental defence, Defence Minister Anita Anand says

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Robert Fife Ottawa Bureau Chief

Defence Minister Anita Anand says the Canadian government will soon unveil a significant spending plan to help modernize continental defences under NORAD, a revamp the United States has been seeking for years.

“Make no mistake: Canada will be at the table in the short term with a robust package to modernize NORAD – a system that has kept Canadians and Americans safe for over sixty years,” Ms. Anand told an Ottawa defence conference.

Her commitment at the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence [organized by Conference of Defence Associations and CDA Institute] Friday [March 11] comes just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would consider boosting defence spending in the wake of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine.

*Opinion: Canada may finally have the political will to strengthen our depleted defence capacity

A major component of upgrading North American Aerospace Defence Command is replacing the aging North Warning System, a chain of radar sites that provide surveillance against aerial incursions, which is expected to cost more than $10-billion.

Ms. Anand declined to clarify whether this would include Canada joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence system [emphasis added] when asked by an audience member.

In 2005 former prime minister Paul Martin’s Liberal government rejected joining American missile defence.

“I cannot give away the plans to modernize NORAD in their intricacies at this time but I will assure you we are fully cognizant of the various threats that our current system allows to be present and we are working very hard on bringing forward a robust package of new technologies in the short term,” the minister told the conference.

James Fergusson, deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, wrote in a January 2020 paper [see here] for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute think tank that the modernization price tag could be as much as $11-billion according one unofficial estimate. If the cost were split 60/40 with Canada taking the smaller share, that would mean as much as $4.4-billion for Canada [emphasis added].

Last August, on the eve of the 2021 federal election campaign, the Canadian and U.S. governments announced they intend to proceed with “co-ordinated investments” that bolster their ability to protect North America from “a greater and more complex conventional missile threat” including gear that watches for incoming threats from “the sea floor to outer space.”The risk that Canada and the U.S. have in mind is missile technology advancements in Russia and China that can send non-nuclear warheads far greater distances with far more accuracy. These include hypersonic missiles, which travel extremely fast and can dodge and weave during flight to avoid interception, as well as next-generation cruise missiles. This evolution in conventional missiles has made them an increasingly important tool to deter threats or project power without resorting to nuclear weapons.

An August 2021 statement, titled “Joint Statement on NORAD modernization,” set out priorities for the future of North American Aerospace Defense Command, the heart of the Canada-U.S. continental defence pact, saying the two countries must be able to “detect, identify [airborne] threats earlier and respond to them faster and more decisively.”

The statement said the North Warning System will be replaced with technology including “next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems,” which have the ability to detect targets at very long ranges. It also mentions building a network of American and Canadian sensors installed everywhere from the seabed to satellites in space…

Post on that statement:

Canada/US Statement on Way Forward for NORAD–Very Little There There

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Planning Social Media Propaganda Campaign to Support ever more Costly and Delayed Shipbuilding Program

From a story at the Ottawa Citizen–keep in mind that the author does like to stir things up:

Government quietly seeks influencers to push out good news about troubled shipbuilding program

Author of the article: David Pugliese

As the country’s shipbuilding strategy continues to pile up billions of dollars in extra costs to taxpayers, Public Services and Procurement Canada is quietly seeking what it calls influencers to push out social media messages that the program is a success.

The federal government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, which will see the construction of new vessels for the Canadian navy and coast guard [a completely civilian service with no defence or law enforcement functions of its own], has skyrocketed in cost and various projects are facing delays expected to further drive up the price tag [see this recent story: “Military shipbuilding faces fresh delays as a result of COVID-19: procurement chief”].

“We are asking for your help in promoting the values, benefits and impacts of the Strategy by amplifying our campaign messages on your social media channels and throughout your networks,” the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) recruitment document for social media influencers noted.

It is being sent out to various companies and defence analysts and academics who are deemed supportive of the shipbuilding program. They are to be provided with positive messages and data by PSPC about federal shipbuilding with an emphasis on jobs being created. But in their roles as “key crew influencers” those pushing out the positive messages wouldn’t reveal the government was behind the propaganda campaign, warned sources who leaked details about the new program to this newspaper.

PSPC told the prospective influencers several government promotional campaigns on the National Shipbuilding Strategy or NSS are being launched in the coming months.“The NSS has resulted in many social and economic benefits, from creating and sustaining more than 16,000 jobs annually to showcasing the innovations applied to shipbuilding, and we know we have content that would be of interest to your followers and networks,” the potential influencers were told.

PSPC declined to say how many such recruiting requests for influencers have been or will be sent out. “We asked if they would be interested in sharing our content, which is clearly identified as originating from the Government, with their networks,” the PSPC stated in its response to this newspaper. “The Government of Canada regularly communicates information about its programs and services to Canadians,” it added.

There is growing concern among some in the federal government and military that the NSS is becoming increasingly unaffordable.

The Canadian Surface Combatant project to build 15 warships to replace the navy’s frigates started out with a budget of $26 billion. Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux noted the estimated price tag is now around $77 billion. The Department of National Defence says the budget is around $56 billion to $60 billion but some defence officials now privately acknowledge the cost is expected to go higher. Delays, inflation and pandemic-related construction issues have dogged the project being handled by Lockheed Martin and Irving Shipbuilding.

Last year, this newspaper reported the offshore science vessel to be built under NSS had jumped in price from $108 million to almost $1 billion [see tweet 2) below]. South Africa is constructing a similar oceanographic vessel with an ice-strengthened hull in a project with a budget of around $170 million.

In December, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report showing the estimated cost of building two polar icebreakers is now $7.25 billion. The federal government had originally estimated one such ship would cost $1.3 billion {see tweet 3) below].

The construction of two supply ships for the navy has increased from $2.3 billion to $3.4 billion [more like $4 billion, see tweet 1) below]. The Arctic and Offshore patrol ship program has run into delays and increased costs.

Critics point out the Liberal government has done little to control the growing costs.

A push by PSPC to emphasize the jobs linked to the multi-billion dollar programs might shore up public support for the NSS, defence industry officials noted [emphasis added]

Who cares if billions of increasingly scarce defence dollars–and one assumes CoastGuard ones–are essentially flushed away as long as those politically valuable “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs” are there? And all parties support the insanely costly principle of making government vessels only in Canadian shipyards.

But given the constantly rising costs, and the slow pace of actual construction (by yards that have had effectively to be rebuilt over quite a few previous years), one does wonder how many of the planned ships will ever be built. Especially the desperately expensive and very war-like Canadian Surface Combatant frigates.

And there are many new vessels–well over twenty–that PM Trudeau promised for the Canadian Coast Guard in 2019. These, along with six smaller icebreakers for the CCG, are needed as the Coast Guard’s whole fleet of largish vessels is ancient and in need of complete replacement. But no timeline or detailed costings for all these new vessels has been given; heaven knows when they may eventually be built. Mainly in the 2030s it looks like (and after?) given how occupied Seaspan Vancouver–promised most of the work–will be with other programs this decade.

Meanwhile the current fleet requires constant refurbishing to keep it afloat and functioning. See this story: “Canadian Coast Guard announces over $28 million in vessel maintenance contracts to shipyards across Canada”.




Sigh. So much for core functions of the Canadian federal government.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Top UK Officer Highlights Russian Activities in Arctic, whilst Royal Canadian Navy Silent about whose Subs might be a North Atlantic Threat (plus Royal Navy/Canadian Coast Guard)

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “HMS Lancaster sails into Arctic Circle for High North operation” 2020.)


Further to this recent post,

US Navy Talks Up Steps it’s Taking vs Russian Subs/Cruise Missiles in North Atlantic–why not Royal Canadian Navy?

now the Brits weigh in–note the specific mention of the Atlantic link to Canada–as the Canadian Armed Forces give almost no public notice to Russkie activities relevant to our NATO anti-submarine mission in the North Atlantic (and the Royal Canadian Navy plays the “Silent Service” about the object of that ASW mission). Weird. From US Naval Institute News:

Defense Chief: U.K. Needs to Develop ‘Capability and Deterrence’ in the High North

By: John Grady

Keeping the Atlantic open so European allies can remain in the loop with the United States and Canada during a crisis has “always been the case in NATO military strategy” and remains so today, the chief of the United Kingdom’s defense staff said Tuesday [Oct. 19].

Gen. Sir Nicholas Carter said that even in this “era of consistent competition” with authoritarian powers like Russia and China, London looks first to the challenges coming from Moscow in assessing threats.

Speaking at a Center for New American Security forum, he said the Kremlin’s advances in submarine technologies and deep undersea capabilities in its Northern Fleet means “you are right to focus on the maritime” from the North Atlantic to the Arctic as a major security concern for allies and partners like Sweden and Finland.

Seeing this as a new threat, Carter said “we need to be thinking hard about … capability and deterrence” in the High North, especially where operating conditions are difficult…

The United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands – what Carter called “the Quint” – “are focused on the region” and the changing maritime security conditions in the Arctic [of course mainly on the European side of the Atlantic]

And look at this Canadian angle that the UK has publicized and which, as far as I can find, has had no official mention by the Canadian government or Coast Guard–a Royal Navy news release:

Royal Navy sailors to get Canadian polar training as part of a new collaborative agreement

More Royal Navy sailors will be trained in taking ships into challenging polar waters thanks to a new collaborative agreement with the Canadian Coast Guard.

Its sailors will benefit from Canadian training in navigating through icy waters, breaking sheets of ice where necessary, while Canadian Coast Guard personnel will have operational training opportunities and gain experience with crewless technology with the Royal Navy.

The agreement was signed between the two NATO nations at the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) headquarters in Ottawa by its Commissioner, Mario Pelletier, and Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine…

The agreement follows an initiative in early 2020 which saw several watchkeeping officers from HMS Protector, the UK’s sole ice patrol ship, gain valuable experience in ice operations aboard a CCG vessel…

The sharing of the Canadian Coast Guard’s wide experience and expertise will mean British sailors are better-equipped when sailing to the frozen region. 

In recent years the Royal Navy has demonstrated renewed interest in the Arctic region given its key strategic importance to the security of the UK…

Why do Canadians often have to find out about defence matters our country is involved with from other countries? And why cannot we be specific about countries that our services may have to deal with? See this classic case–a tweet:

Hint: the country is (once again) Russia.

UPDATE: NATO can name Russia, why not our Navy?

Nato agrees master plan to deter growing Russian threat

More here from NATO.

OSINT UPPERDATE: Aircraft tracking by people points out RCAF CP-140 patrol plane in Iceland, clearly surveilling for Russian subs with NATO. Yet our air force, navy never mention this mission:

The lack of transparency about our military’s missions is a joke. And increasingly ineffective in an OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) world.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

US Navy Talks Up Steps it’s Taking vs Russian Subs/Cruise Missiles in North Atlantic–why not Royal Canadian Navy? (Note Norway UPPESTDATE)

From the start of a 2020 post:

…one notes the US Navy is certainly taking those submarines seriously in public; so why does the Royal Canadian Navy stay largely mute? Why does our Navy not highlight an anti-submarine warfare mission (ASW) in the North Atlantic (its focus with NATO during the Cold War)?

US Navy’s Revived 2nd Fleet Revving-up for Another Possible Battle of the Atlantic, with the Russian Navy’s Subs [note the “Comments”]

Since then I don’t think I’ve seen a word from the RCN or the Canadian Forces specifically about their role in countering this serious, growing threat that the US perceives (the RCAF is also fully involved with its CP-140 patrol planes). Those cruise missiles approaching North America from the east are also a threat that NORAD must deal with. Our silence is all the more striking as both the UK and Norway are highlighting their ASW missions vs Russian subs in the High North on their side of the pond and off their coasts–from 2019: “UK & Norway Reinforce Commitment for Joint ASW Ops in North Atlantic“.

Yet crickets from Canada. And that NATO ASW mission is the single most import one for the RCN’s planned 15 new frigates (whenever they get built). Meanwhile the lastest trumpeting from the US Navy at US Naval Institute News:

Navy Creates New Atlantic Destroyer Task Group to Hunt Russian Submarines

By: Mallory Shelbourne

The Navy has created a new task group on the East Coast to ensure it has ready destroyers that can deploy on short notice to counter the Russian submarine threat in the Atlantic Ocean.Task Group Greyhound – which officially declared initial operational capability on Sept. 1 – is a force-generation model for destroyers that is embedded within the Navy’s Optimized Fleet Response Plan.

The plan is to take destroyers that have recently completed deployments and are awaiting maintenance availabilities and make them ready for training and operations in the Atlantic.

Greyhound is “designed to provide the fleet with predictable, continuously ready and fully certified warships,” Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, the commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, said in a Monday ceremony aboard USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) in Mayport, Fla.

“The ships will be ready to accomplish the full range of missions – including tracking Russian undersea activity in the Atlantic and maritime homeland defense for our nation [emphasis added].”

The task force shares a name with the 2020 surface warfare movie “Greyhound,” in which a collection of allied destroyers defend a North Atlantic convoy from German U-boats.

USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) – which recently completed several years forward-deployed in Rota, Spain and is now based in Mayport – and Thomas Hudner are the first destroyers to become part of the task group. USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), which is currently deployed with the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group, will join the task group in January when it returns. USS Cole (DDG-67) and USS Gravely (DDG-107) will become part of Greyhound next year when Donald Cook begins its maintenance period…

The creation of the new task group comes as the Navy has refocused assets and efforts on the Atlantic region due to Russia’s undersea capability. The service formally reestablished U.S. 2nd Fleet, which covers the North Atlantic and East Coast, in 2018 amid concerns over Russian submarines operating in the waters [emphasis added].

The Russian Navy has developed next-generation attack submarines armed with long-range land-attack [cruise] missiles with ranges of 1,000 miles or more [emphasis added, Yasen-class of sub a particular concern, those missiles could have nuke warheads, some could be hypersonic].

The ships will be based out of Mayport and Norfolk, Va., and the task group is set for full operational capability by June 2022…

“The strategic threat to the homeland has entered a new era and our key competitors have deployed and continue to advance a range of capabilities to hold the homeland at risk,” McLane said…

And from another story:

The Navy has acknowledged for several years now that Russians submarines are increasingly slipping through the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) Gap and operating on this side of the Atlantic. That acknowledgement spurred the standup of U.S. 2nd Fleet, which was meant to coordinate anti-submarine warfare efforts across the Atlantic and in conjunction with the Italy-based U.S. 6th Fleet. It also spurred the standup of Submarine Group 2 that Davies leads — where he is dual-hatted as the deputy 2nd Fleet commander, raising the profile of sub-hunting missions to the fleet level…

The mystery of Canada’s silence only deepens for me. The Americans and NATO, especially the UK and Norway, must wonder too.

UPDATE: NATO’s new Allied Joint Force Command Norfolk (VA.), headed by the USN admiral in command of US Second Fleet, also highlights the new USN ASW effort using the same USNI News story as this post (JFC Norfolk doesn’t mention Russia itself but the story sure does):


Russia test-fires new hypersonic missile from a nuclear submarine

A prospective Russian hypersonic missile has been successfully test-fired from a nuclear submarine for the first time, the military said Monday.The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Severodvinsk submarine performed two launches of the Zircon cruise missile at mock targets in the Barents Sea.It first test-fired Zircon from the surface, and then launched another missile from a submerged position in the White Sea.

The launch marked Zircon’s first launch from a submarine. It previously has been repeatedly test-fired from a navy frigate, most recently in July.Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Zircon would be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Putin has emphasized that its deployment will significantly boost Russian military capability [so subs would have to approach pretty close to North America to launch].

Officials said Zircon’s tests are to be completed later this year and it will be commissioned by the Russian navy in 2022…

UPPESTDATE: Unlike Canada, even Norway is willing to specify Russian cruise missiles sub threat–at Aviation Week anjd Space Technology:

Norway Outlines Defense Plans Amid Military Overhaul

In mid-November, Norway accepted its first of five Boeing P-8 Poseidons, making the country the first operator of the modern maritime-patrol aircraft on the front line with Russia as it deploys more advanced and capable submarines. Specifically, the new Severodvinsk-class cruise-missile sub “demands our attention” and requires Norway to field new capabilities to hunt quiet subs [emphasis added], Norway’s defense attache, Maj. Gen. Odd-Harald Hagen, tells Aviation Week.Norway is spending 11 billion krone ($1.23 billion) to replace its fleet of five Lockheed P-3C Orions and two Dassault Falcon 20s. The P-8s will be operated by 333 Sqdn. at Evenes Air Station in the north of the country.

The base is also home for quick-reaction F-35As, where operations began in September. As of mid-November, Norway has received 31 of its planned 52 F-35As [emphasis added].

Canada, for its part, is still years away from receiving the first new fighter for the RCAF:

Ottawa declines Boeing’s bid to replace Canada’s aging fighter jet fleet

…the first plane {now only F-35A and Saab Gripen left in competition] set to be delivered in 2025.

The last plane isn’t scheduled to arrive until 2032 — at which point the CF-18s will have been around for 50 years.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

The Indo-Pacific, the Birth of AUKUS…and Canada (note “UPPERDATE”)

The US and UK have reached an agreement to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs, not fitted with nuclear weapons) and well as to deepen cooperation in a number of key emerging defence technologies. The Australians will ditch their existing agreement with France’s Naval Group to build twelve large conventional subs (SSKs) in Australia based on a design from that company. The French are hopping mad, saying that is “a stab in the back” and that “trust has been betrayed” by Australia.

The plan is for eight SSNs to be (largely) built in Adelaide, South Australia, based on either the Royal Navy’s Astute-class or the larger US Navy Virginia-class. It is hoped the first sub might be delivered by around 2040 (what will the Indo-Pacific, indeed the world, look like by then?). From a story at the Sydney Morning Herald:

Australia will pursue long-range hypersonic missile technology and undersea drones while it builds a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new military pact with the United States and Britain, a partnership China has labelled an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability.

The announcement of the partnership, to be known as AUKUS, has sent shockwaves around the world as the three countries look to provide a more assertive military posture in the face of Beijing’s rapidly escalating militarisation of the South China Sea.

China’s foreign ministry said the agreement “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.

…Australia will acquire long-range missiles – including Tomahawk cruise missiles on its Hobart-class destroyers, anti-ship missiles for the Super Hornet aircraft and hypersonic missiles that can travel at least five times the speed of sound – as well as unmanned underwater vehicles under the AUKUS pact…

The Canadian Forces can only dream of procuring such new, advanced and costly capabilities.

Plus another story at the Sydney Morning Herald on how the momentous pact came quickly to fruition:

Engaging the systems’: The secret only a handful of people were trusted to keep

It was a proposal 18 months in the making and a secret only a handful of people were trusted to keep for months. It would result in what the US has described as the “biggest strategic step Australia has taken in generations.” Morrison says it is now “probably the most important trilateral meeting Australia has had for the past 70 years”.

But note this UPPESTDATE:

And from an article at US Naval Institute News, note the other areas of cooperation mentioned at end of the quote:

Nuclear-powered submarines are largely regarded as the most survivable weapon against the Chinese fleet in the South China Sea, where U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officials expect a potential conflict with Beijing could occur. Nuclear-powered boats can travel much longer distances and operate underwater for longer periods of time than conventionally-powered submarines, making them ideal for the vast distances in the Indo-Pacific.

“Our first initiative as part of AUKUS is . . . a shared ambition to support Australia’s desire to acquire nuclear-powered submarines and we will launch a trilateral effort of 18 months, which will involve teams – technical and strategic and navy teams from all three countries – to identify the optimal pathway of delivery of this capability,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters today, noting that the U.S. has only ever shared this technology with the U.K. in 1958.

“We are adding – this is a unique set of circumstances – Australia to that deep partnership to explore the best ways for Australia to pursue nuclear-powered submarines. I do want to underscore that this will give Australia the capability for their submarines . . . to deploy for longer periods,” the official continued. “They’re quieter. They’re much more capable. They will allow us to sustain and improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific. As part of that, we will work closely on efforts to ensure the best practices with respect to nuclear stewardship. I think you will see much deeper interoperability among our navies and our nuclear infrastructure people to ensure that our countries are working very closely together.”..

“Over the next 18 months, we will work together to seek to determine the best way forward to achieve this. This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia,” Morrison said during the press conference. “We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide, Australia in close cooperation with the United Kingdom and the United States. But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability. And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”..

The new AUKUS security agreement also includes broader technology sharing between the three countries and ongoing dialogue between defense and diplomatic officials, the senior [US] administration official said.

The arrangement will include initiatives “to spur cooperation across many new and emerging arenas: cyber, AI – particularly applied AI – quantum technologies and some undersea capabilities as well. We’ll also work to sustain and deepen information and technology sharing and I think you’re going to see a much more dedicated effort to pursue integration of security and defense-related science, technology, and industrial bases and supply chains,” the official said. “This will be a sustained effort over many years to see how we can marry and merge some of our independent and individual capabilities into greater trilateral engagement as we go forward.”

Meanwhile the alarm is raised in Canada–at the Globe and Mail:

Canada left out as U.S., U.K., Australia strike deal to counter China

The three countries, along with Canada and New Zealand, already share foreign intelligence through the Five Eyes partnership. It was not immediately clear whether the new alliance would serve purely as a vehicle for Australia to engage in additional defence projects with the other countries, or if the pact would supplant some of the work of the Five Eyes [I would think there will be little direct impact on Five Eyes sharing–this pact is primarily defence cooperation and research oriented–see following section of this post]...

Eric Miller, a political and business consultant specializing in Canada-U.S. affairs, said the agreement represents an alliance between countries more willing than Canada to take on China. He said the pact could represent a “three eyes” subset of the larger partnership.

“Those who are in the world of ‘we need to directly confront China, and use all of our assets and resources to do that,’ – they are essentially moving forward,” he said…

The British Thin Pinstriped Line blog has these observations:

…Its unlikely that this will do much damage to 5-EYES – for example New Zealand would never have been approached as the acquisition of a nuclear submarine would be vastly beyond the budget, or needs, of the small but incredibly professional Royal New Zealand Navy.

Canada may be feeling slightly raw about this – particularly those with long memories who recall the 1980s and the doomed plan to acquire nuclear submarines for the RCN [see “Sovereignty, Security and the Canadian Nuclear Submarine Program” by @adam_lajeunesse]

Given 5-EYEs is more than just an Indo-Pacific focus, it would be wrong to read much into this as a statement on the future of that Alliance. Rather it is better to see this as a subgrouping of a very successful international alliance…

In any event Canada has little serious in the way of naval or air assets to bring to bear to much effect in the Western Pacific–a post from 2020:

Canada and the Indo-Pacific Century: A Military/Naval Role?

But there is a bigger picture in all this as to how Canada now fits with the the three members of AUKUS. A tweet of mine:

Then this tweet from Vice-Admiral (ret’d) Paul Maddison of the Royal Canadian Navy, subsequently our High Commissioner to Australia:

A friend well-versed in defence matters and international affairs has this reaction, along similar lines:

Since World War II, Australia has always made it a strategic priority to nurture its alliance with the USA, which they perceive as having saved them when the UK abandoned them during that war (that’s their “narrative”). The nuclear submarines, which are part of the very inner circle of defence intimacy (exceeded only by nuclear weapons) help cement that and if the good old, now Global, Britain wants in, so much the better.

What may be emerging is a Three Eyes alliance with Canada and New Zealand relegated to a peripheral, symbolic Five Eyes arrangement to keep the club intact for larger intelligence and foreign policy calculations.

Bottom line – serious countries are getting serious.  Suppliers of virtuous advice…may be invited to sit in a corner, where their incoherent mumblings won’t disturb the adults.

Ouch! And some final thoughts of mine, further to the earlier post of mine listed above:

One thing Canada usefully could do for our allies is very publicly to re-assert our focus on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) in the North Atlantic for NATO vs Russian subs with cruise missiles, in cooperation with the renewed US 2nd Fleet at Norfolk, Virginia which has this mission (see this post: “Subs and Russian Nuclear Weapons Doctrine, Note Cruise Missiles“).  All our frigates save three should be based in Atlantic Canada and some RCAF CP-140 maritime patrol planes should be permanently based in Newfoundland for greater range into the ocean (our eastern ones are now at Nova Scotia). The US Navy should have regular, agreed operational access to Canadian bases and ports (as the USN now has in Australia and Norway), as should USN P-8A maritime patrol planes–if the US wants such sea/air access on our territory.

But for some reason our government and and the RCN/RCAF do almost nothing to highlight the North Atlantic ASW role, preferring to stress drug busting in Caribbean and enforcing UN sanctions off North Korea. Very odd, especially as both Norway and the UK are putting serious public emphasis on their (sometimes joint) contribution to that ASW role and on their cooperation in it with US.

Something like the above would hardly be as striking as AUKUS but at least it would offer something of real utility for allies and also public backing for them.

UPDATE: The CCP’s Global Times mouthpiece, in top Wolf Warrior mode, unleashes the hit “The Return of the Running Dogs”:

Swell folks, those Chicoms.

UPPERDATE: As was suggested above in this post–for government officials to say such things as these suggests a whole lot of dissatisfaction with PM Trudeau’s government:

Canada caught off guard by new security pact between U.S., Australia and Britain

Three officials, representing Canada’s foreign affairs, intelligence and defence departments, told The Globe and Mail that Ottawa was not consulted about the pact, and had no idea the trilateral security announcement was coming until it was made on Wednesday by U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The defence ministers from the U.K. and Australia reached out to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to inform him of the decision shortly before the late-afternoon announcement. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau received a call from his Australian counterpart. Daniel Minden, a spokesperson for Mr. Sajjan, said Ottawa had been kept in the loop on talks between the countries.

One of the Canadian officials referred to the pact as the new “Three Eyes” and said it’s clear that Canada’s closest allies consider Ottawa to be a “weak sister” when it comes to standing up to China. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the officials because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly…

We are indeed a “weak sister”. Plus on same story a re-tweet from former high-level Liberal insider Warren Kinsella, who has turned violently against PM Trudeau:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

US Navy doesn’t seem all that Concerned about the North American Arctic

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “The carrier Harry S. Truman conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler Big Horn while operating in the Norwegian Sea. (MC2 Cameron Stoner/Navy)”.)

Rather, further to this post,

Russia, The US, NATO and the High North–The Far West of the Bear’s own Arctic, that is

it would seem it’s the high north on the European side of NATO that’s top of mind for them (note the Canadian angle near the end of the post). A story at Defense News:

Arctic will become ‘contested’ without US presence and partnerships, 2nd Fleet CO warns

Diana Stancy Correll

Enhancing presence and cultivating partnerships in the Arctic are vital to ensuring the region does not become a contested space, according to 2nd Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis.

“The Arctic is a cooperative area. But it will only remain a cooperative area if we continue to build those relationships — even with the Russians,” Lewis said at The Navy League’s 2021 Sea-Air-Space Exposition on Monday. “We have to work together because the environment is very, very challenging … and the environment is changing.”

“But if we aren’t present there, and if we aren’t continuing to build those partnerships, it will be a contested space,” said Lewis, who also heads NATO’s Joint Force Command Norfolk.

Failure to maintain presence in the Arctic would “cede the space to the Russians or somebody else,” Lewis said, adding that it could also become a space where conflict arises.

The U.S. Coast Guard, whom Lewis described as the U.S. “experts” in the Arctic, work closely with the Navy’s 2nd, 3rd and 5th Fleets — but he noted partnerships could exist outside of uniformed military or maritime communities.

The U.S. Navy has ramped up its presence in the Arctic in recent years. For example, the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and its carrier strike group operated in the Norwegian Sea in 2018 — marking the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier had entered the Arctic Circle since 1991.

More recently, four U.S. Navy ships sailed into the Barents Sea between Russia and Norway in May to complete maritime security operations. The Navy said the operations were the first time a U.S. Navy surface ship had entered the Barents Sea since the mid-1980s.

The ships, the destroyers Donald Cook, Porter and Roosevelt, along with the fast combat support ship Supply (T-AOE 6), were accompanied by the United Kingdom frigate Kent.

In January, the Navy unveiled a “Blue Arctic” strategy for the region [the document is here]. The blueprint, which said the U.S. Navy “must operate more assertively” in the Arctic, cautioned that Russia is reopening old bases and “reinvigorating” regional exercises. Likewise, it predicts that this will continue in the “decades ahead” and that China will step up its naval activity “on, below and above Arctic waters.”

“Peace and prosperity in the Arctic requires enhanced naval presence and partnerships,” the report said.

Weeks after the report’s release, Lewis warned during a Jan. 26 American Enterprise Institute webinar that the Arctic could become the next contested space, noting the Russians were reinvigorating their military capabilities in the Arctic in an attempt to make it a militarily contested zone.

“That is not in the common interests of the other Arctic nations, and what we cannot allow to happen,” Lewis said.

Those are not the the Arctic regions that Canadians obsess about at such great length. By the way the vice commander of US 2nd Fleet is Royal Canadian Navy Rear-Admiral Steve Waddell.

Another very relevant earlier post:

US Maritime Strategy and the High North–no Mention of Western Arctic, Alaska or Canada (or Northwest Passage)

Plus this one on the 2nd Fleet specifically:

US Navy’s Revived 2nd Fleet Revving-up for Another Possible Battle of the Atlantic, with the Russian Navy’s Subs

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Rare Royal Canadian Navy Sub Sighted

(Caption for photo a top of the post: “HMCS Corner Brook is maneuvered onto the lift barge for the journey to Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard.”)

The start and finish of an article at the excellent site, The Drive’s “War Zone”; one does really wonder if the effort and considerable expense to maintain Canada’s very small submarine fleet has been worth the effort given the consistently low availability, and hence defence contribution, of the boats:

Canadian Submarine Bedeviled By Accidents For A Decade Is Finally Back In The Water​

Canada’s tiny submarine fleet has been in sad shape for years. Now with the return of HMCS Corner Brook that could start to change.​

By Thomas Newdick

The Royal Canadian Navy’s Victoria class diesel-electric submarine [official webpage for the four-boat class is here] HMCS Corner Brook has returned to the water, following a troubled overhaul that began back in 2014 and was interrupted by an onboard fire. The boat has not been to sea for even longer, however, since it was effectively put out of commission after hitting the seabed off Vancouver Island in the Pacific Ocean back in 2011.

The Royal Canadian Navy, or RCN, announced yesterday that Corner Brook had begun the undocking process at Esquimalt Graving Dock (EGD), when it was loaded onto the lift barge Seaspan Careen over several hours. The barge then moved the sub to Ogden Point. Here, the submarine was gradually lowered into the water. It will then be moved to Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and fueled in advance of in-harbor acceptance trials, after which it should finally go back to sea…

The COVID-19 pandemic further complicated things and, although Victoria returned to the fleet last September, Corner Brook faced more delays. As of April this year, both Windsor and Victoria were in the water undergoing post-work testing, suggesting the program may, finally, have turned a corner. There seems to be some uncertainty when work on Chicoutimi might be completed, however, evidenced by the RCN’s stated aim of “having three of four submarines” back in service in the near-term.

That aspiration might also be challenged by the age of the submarines, with the oldest, Victoria, due to reach the end of its planned service life next year. A life-extension program costing roughly $1.5 billion would be required to keep the class active into the late 2030s or early 2040s. While that may not sound such a lot, it’s a significant figure in a country where annual defense spending for 2019-20 was estimated at around $26.5 billion, total. The life-extension program would equate to more than 5 percent of the entire defense budget.

It wouldn’t be altogether surprising if the Canadian government decides the funds for submarine life-extension could be better spent elsewhere. Regardless, Canada has already invested more than a billion dollars in the submarines in the past 20 years, with very little return so far. Submarines are also not the only area where Canada is struggling to modernize, with the saga of acquiring new fighter jets another prominent big-ticket example.

The RCN’s requirement for a submarine of any kind is meanwhile clear, with the strategic importance of the nearby Arctic region steadily growing and with highly advanced Russian submarines increasingly active in the North Atlantic. The result has been a revival of submarine and anti-submarine warfare across NATO, something that Canada is keenly aware of. That said, just four submarines for a country like Canada with maritime interests in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Arctic, as well as responsibilities as part of NATO, is an extremely small force — even if they do all work.

That Ottawa is willing to invest in high-end naval capabilities is clear by looking at its ambitious next-generation frigates, based on the British Type 26 design, which will be among the most heavily armed warships of their size.

It remains to be seen whether Canada will opt to persist with its trouble-prone Victoria class or if it will decide to invest in a new design offering better reliability and capabilities, although, so far, there doesn’t appear to be any active movements toward acquiring new submarines. Once the RCN finally has three subs back in regular service, the defense ministry might be better able to make a decision on that front.

Video of HMCS Corner Brook at this tweet:

Note that extending the subs’ service lives was under discussion in 2016–see post below–and nothing definitive has been done since. Typical in Canada:

Should RCN Subs Lives be Extended to 2030s?

…the following might suggest a serious reason to keep our subs going–if it can be demonstrated they would have any serious role vs the submarine threat from the Bear; remember only two of ours are stationed on the east coast and having both at sea at any one time would be pretty unlikely:

USN “Admiral Warns: Russian Subs Waging Cold War-Style ‘Battle of the Atlantic’”–and RCN?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Jeffrey Delisle, or, the Incredible Creaking Canadian Spy-Catching System

It took the FBI to get the RCMP onto Royal Canadian Navy Sub-Lieutenant Delisle; one really does wonder how many other cases are not being properly investigated and charged. By Jim Bronskill (tweets here) of the Canadian Press:

Former FBI official says Canada’s spy catching system caused delay, angst in Delisle case

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s former head of counter-intelligence says it fell to him to tell the RCMP about a spy in the Canadian navy, even though the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was already well aware of Jeffrey Delisle’s sale of sensitive secrets to the Russians.

In a newly published book [The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence], Frank Figliuzzi casts a critical eye on the Delisle case, pointing to the episode as a prime illustration of systemic problems with how Canadian agencies investigate espionage.

As a sub-lieutenant at the Trinity intelligence centre in Halifax, Delisle had access to a databank of classified secrets shared by the Five Eyes community — Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Read more: Russian spy case had its documents lost, destroyed: Canada’s information watchdog

The RCMP arrested Delisle, a junior navy officer, on Jan. 13, 2012, for violating the Security of Information Act. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Delisle had given secret material to Russia in exchange for upward of $110,000 over more than four years [he was working for military intelligence, the GRU–more details at 2012 Globe and Mail story: “Russian mole had access to wealth of CSIS, RCMP, Privy Council files“].

The official story detailed in court records suggested the FBI tipped Canadian authorities to Delisle’s relationship with the Russians on Dec. 2, 2011, through a letter to the RCMP.

However, as The Canadian Press reported in May 2013, the story actually began months earlier.

Senior CSIS officials were called to Washington, where U.S. security personnel told them a navy officer in Halifax was receiving cash transfers from Russian agents. The Canadian spy service soon got court approval to begin electronic surveillance of Delisle [emphasis added].

“The United States and its allies were hemorrhaging our most sensitive Russian reporting for as long as five years. As soon as we learned of Delisle, we knew we had to tell the Canadians and stop this guy. Easy, right?” Figliuzzi writes in “The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence.”

“Not so much. Not when dealing with a system that’s so very different from ours,” the book says.

“The problem arose when it came time for someone to put Delisle in handcuffs.”

CSIS watched Delisle pass top-secret information to Russia for months without briefing the RCMP. The spy agency, acting on legal advice, opted to keep its investigation sealed for fear of exposing sources and methods of the intelligence trade in open court proceedings [emphasis added].

“Someone had to call Canada’s cops. Strangely, that task went to me,” says Figliuzzi, who led the FBI’s counter-intelligence division as an assistant director.

I wrote a simple letter on FBI stationery to the RCMP explaining that Jeffrey Delisle was a spy. I flew up to Ottawa and sat in a conference room with RCMP officials and verbally briefed the Mounties. Now the RCMP had to start their own investigation to be used in court [emphasis added],” he recalls in the book.

Again, the cycle started from scratch, all while Delisle continued to spill everyone’s secrets to the Russians. This was taking so long that we considered luring Delisle into the United States so we could arrest him on our own charges [emphasis added].”

Figliuzzi says Bob Mueller, FBI director at the time, even placed a call to his counterparts in Canada and “torqued up the pressure for someone to put an end to the madness. The end couldn’t come fast enough.”..

CSIS must hand over a case to the RCMP or work in parallel with the Mounties, then pass along the file when it comes time to take suspected spies or terrorists into custody…

Authorities don’t have the luxury of time for different agencies to independently develop the same information because their protocols and regulations require that they not share with each other, Figliuzzi said.

“The bad guys don’t respect our rules and our protocols. And in fact, they learn to exploit them quite skilfully. And this is an age that requires a swift response to breaking threats.”

To this day, the Delisle case remains the worst breach of Canadian secrets in the post-Cold War world, said Wesley Wark, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

“There has never been any public accounting of the handling by Canadian authorities of the counter-intelligence investigation.”

The RCMP mounted a crash investigation in the navy spy case over the December 2011 holidays, he noted. “But how much time was lost, and how many secrets, before the Mounties put the cuffs on Delisle?

The RCMP did not respond to a request for comment…

Federal agencies face challenges when attempting to use intelligence in a form that is admissible as evidence, said Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

“This is a long-standing issue considering that an accused individual cannot be tried based on evidence that cannot be disclosed to them in some fashion.”

CSIS, the RCMP and the Department of Justice are constantly working together to improve their intelligence gathering and on addressing national security threats, Power said.

“By breaking down the silos that come to exist over time, the government is confident it will avoid future roadblocks and better manage litigation.”

And maybe the RCMP Musical Ride will fly (video here). As for the increasing pathetic Mounties see these posts:

Cameron Ortis, or, RCMP Blows it Big Time Trying to Play in the Intel Bigs (note SIGINT)

The Mounties’ Constable Plod, or, the Globe and Mail Maintains the Time may be Right to Bust Up the RCMP

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

COVID-19/Natural Disaster Response, or, Canada’s Coming Constabulary/Militia Armed Forces?

Whither, indeed whether, three serious combat-capable armed services for this country? Further to these excerpts from posts in 2020,

COVID-19 may well be the End of the Canadian Armed Forces as we have Known them…and of our Effective Sovereignty

…It is not improbable that the Canadian military, if the Liberals win the next election, will effectively end up as a constabulary/militia force with domestic response to natural disasters of various sorts as its primary function along with very token commitments to UN peacekeeping missions…

COVID-19 Facing the Canadian Government and Military with Major Decisions on Force Structures, Employment and Equipment–how Radical a Re-Shape?

I fear the CAF may over time be turned into services whose main mission is domestic response to emergencies of various sorts (cf. RCAF SAR [search and rescue]) with actual mlitary/defence capabilities a distant concern…

the following excerpts from an opinion piece at the Globe and Mail give one furiously to think in view of the generally warm and fuzzy predilections, and progressive political preferences, of many of our politicians:

Military efforts at home are increasingly the norm. A Joint Task Force Canada is the next logical step

Christian Leuprecht is Class of 1965 Professor in Leadership at the Royal Military College, cross-appointed to Queen’s University and senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute.

Two years ago, few could have imagined that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would end up managing a global supply chain for national vaccine distribution and backstopping the provincial mismanagement of 54 long-term care homes. The pandemic also showed that no one in government fully understands national supply chains across Canada. Still, no part of the country ran out of personal protective equipment even when supply was critically short, because CAF logisticians had the managerial savvy to locate it, CAF planners executed without having to rely on other partners or equipment, and the Royal Canadian Air Force transported it where it needed to go.

Time and again, the Department of National Defence has been called on as the only federal organization with the highly trained, well-educated and experienced roster of specialists and assets to plan and execute complex and large-scale operations in short order. Under Operation Laser, the CAF had a COVID-19 plan that it was able to execute while coming to the assistance of other government departments…

Over the past decade, Canada has become more reliant on the CAF to respond to domestic emergencies: the number of CAF’s domestic taskings has doubled and tripled over the two previous decades. These operations have proven well within the capabilities of the CAF. But in the event of floods, forest fires, or a grave international crisis, CAF assets currently dedicated to the pandemic may have been unavailable. Climate change is bound to multiply the frequency of crises such as wildfires and floods in the coming years, and that will increase demand for CAF resources. The pandemic is a harbinger of future CAF domestic operations that are more frequent and complex, longer and larger without the ability to rely on help from allies. Although the CAF has been able to deliver, after 15 years of efforts focused on counterinsurgency and building partner capacity, Canada’s military still has much to learn and re-learn about large-scale operations.

For decades, the CAF has prioritized a strategic culture premised on Army expeditionary operations despite the fact that Afghanistan represented the only such mission in the past 60 years [but see just below this paragraph, Prof. Leuprecht is being rather selective]. Since the late 1950s, CAF leaders have vehemently resisted anything seen as diluting the combat role: they argue that it is easier to “scale down” from combat than to “scale up” from domestic operations. But that is a false dichotomy, and politicians are looking for a broader contribution to national security from their annual defence investment of $22-billion…

[Afghanistan has been the Army’s only combat expeditionary mission since 1960 and then only from 2006-11. But there have also been several major and sometimes dangerous Army “peacekeeping” missions with both the UN and NATO, e.g. in Somalia, in former Yugoslavia, in Kosovo and Macedonia (a hybrid operation: the RCAF engaged in bombing and then the Army in peacekeeping) and in Afghanistan itself 2003-05. Plus a major army contribution to NATO in West Germany from the 1950s through the 1980s, and since 2017 a significant Army presence leading the forward NATO multinational force in Latvia. And substantial numbers of Canadian special forces have been engaged in a variety of activities in Iraq since 2014.]

Evidently, domestic operations are no longer a part-time sideshow, yet the CAF still responds to emergencies with pick-up teams. CJOC [Canadian Joint Operations Command] needs a dedicated Joint Task Force (JTF) for domestic operations, composed of regular and reserve forces. The newly appointed Chief of the Defence Staff, Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, is experienced at conducting domestic operations: he was the commander of JTF Pacific from 2016 to 2018 and ran humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as maritime component commander of JTF Haiti in 2010. That background should come in handy as the CAF ponders how to optimize its force structure in response to growing domestic, continental and international demands on its limited assets.

Guess where most governments, the populace and the media will favour putting Canada’s future “defence” priorities and efforts. Especially given almost everybody’s intense aversion to taking fatal casualties in anything beyond the most minimal numbers, see:

Afghanistan, Canadians’ Self-Obsession and Blood

Now the Navy is the armed service least relevant to domestic activities. And all parties love shipbuilding’s jobs to buy votes. Moreover Canada hasn’t had a naval combat fatality since three sailors were killed during the Korean War. So maybe the remaining major combat-capable service of the Canadian Armed Forces will become the Royal Canadian Navy. Which could perform a very important and major anti-submarine role in the North Atlantic vs Russkie subs–‘twould be nice if the Navy and government actually talked about this NATO mission (see 3) near the end of this post).

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds